Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Updates on Nehi's ACL

So, the problem I'm having this week has to do with reference. I don't know what Nehi's incision should look like. I don't know if her constantly laying on that leg is bad. I don't know. I'm supposed to take her back for her two week check up on Friday. But I'm such a worry-wart mom that I wonder if I'm messing up her recovery by not taking her now.

She was feeling much better the past couple of days, so she's been whining a lot because I won't let her go outside to play. I'm sticking to my instructions and restricting her to the house/inside. When she's in the house, she's mostly sleeping on the bed, or the couch. But she's sleeping ON her incision, and I don't know if that's bad or not. She seemed to move better Monday than yesterday. Monday she was placing her weight on the leg, and walking fine. Yesterday she was alternating with putting weight on it and not.
She's crated during the day, not licking it and not running around, so I guess my concern is her laying on the incision is doing it harm.

I've tried Googling what "good" post-op  ACL incisions look like, but the info out there seems to be mainly what to do as an owner post-op, rather than how to tell if you're an awful mother.
This site was helpful, because as much as I love my vet, received no written instructions. This vet's site gave specific expectations of what each week should bring:
Still, I'm a visual person- which I had some pictures to side by side compare with Nehi- I really do work myself into a fit about whether or not I'm doing the right thing. Yet more proof that human children would kill me.
This website was helpful for people's personal stories of their dog's ACL surgeries and recoveries, but still not what I was looking for.

I suppose I'll split the difference: call the vet at lunch, see what they say, and go from there. Oy.
I know I probably make myself sick with stress about this. But, well that's me.

P.S The vet's office says Nehi laying on her incision is fine, that if it hurt her she wouldn't do it. She said swelling was normal- "Pink and puffy was fine, red and swollen was not". The English teacher in me wanted to point out that is semantics and now would have me arguing with myself over what the difference between pink and red was, as well as puffy vs. swollen. Double Oy. Can I just go home now? I could easily argue that Nehi needs me more than my students.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Daily Difficulties

Perhaps it's the nature of life that as soon as we think we've found stable footing, it feels as though the ground has collapsed beneath us. Whether big or small, these things always seem to rock us back and make it difficult to see where we should head next, to know what the next steps are.

Last Thursday, when I got home, Nehi was limping. We've dealt with problems with her mobility the last few months, so I thought maybe she'd pulled something. I wanted to take her straight to the vet, but Dad said to wait a day and see if she was okay. By Friday night, she was the same, so I took her to the vet first thing Saturday morning. I fully expected something related to the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever from a few months ago or maybe a sandspur she wouldn't let me see.
Instead, a vet with no bedside manner informed me she had torn her ACL and needed surgery. I had two choices- have it immediately, with a doctor I knew and trusted, or wait a month for a doctor I didn't know. Anyone that knows how I feel about Nehi can see this was a no brainer- I went with immediate and the doctor I knew.

She had surgery Monday, and it went fine and I was able to pick her up and bring her home on Tuesday. True to form, it was Thursday night before she began to chew on her bandages and lick her incision. I put one of Mom's old neck braces on her for the night as a stop gap.

Then it was back to the vet on Friday. Dr. said it was the bandage that was bothering her, so he took it off, and said she was fine and the incision was looking good.
She started putting weight on it yesterday, although I'm grateful it has rained all week so she is more inclined to take it easy and not run around.
She's loving the wet food she's getting because she needs a full stomach to take her medicine on (and it lets me try and hide her pills in it). Although she cracked a pill today, and spit the medicine all over the floor, so I guess I have to work harder at hiding them.
She seems to be doing fine, and I'm feeling better about it all, especially after friends have shared positive success stories about their own bebes. I'm still not sleeping great, mainly because every time she moves, I'm up to see if everything's okay.
But here's the big meandering back to my original point- the news of this wrecked me, and threw me for a loop. I was just starting to feel like I had a grip of things, and then comes along the knowledge that Nehi has to have surgery, the $1000 expense, the two month recovery time, the cost of follow up visits, the stress of whether or not she'd be okay, the worrying that her other ACL will blow (which is does in 50% of cases where one has). I went from thinking things were okay, and suddenly there's all this STUFF.
And this is on top of all the other STUFF already weighing down- still dealing with Mom's death a year later. Trying to figure out how to balance full time teaching, online teaching, adding on adjunct teaching at the community college. Trying to make some life changes.
At first, it feels like the straw that broke the camel's back. And you fall to your knees with the weight of it. Because you can't believe that now there's ONE MORE THING you have to deal with, and you weren't doing such a great job before.
But here's my personal belief- there are those of us who are survivors, and those of us who just aren't. There are people in the world that when these things happen just throw up their arms, blame the world, and give up. And while I know people that are like this, I have never understood them.
So I cried when I got in the truck with Nehi last weekend. And I mourned the loss of my safety net savings. And I worried about what it would all mean. And then I put it away.
I took the money out of savings to pay for the surgery.
I calculated what goals and projects were going to have to be put on hold because of this.
I dealt with the immediate issue of taking care of Nehi.
I ignored everything else.
And I kept going.

Now, my dog being injured may seem irrelevant to other people. And it probably is. I know people who are struggling with being unemployed for over a year, who are raising kids on their own, struggling with juggling work and raising families amongst a hundred difficulties. Life is rough all over, and maybe Nehi's ACL surgery seems small compared to all of that. But it's not small to  me. I think with most of us, it is these smaller things that can seem so much worse than the big things we're juggling or dealing with. Sometimes it is the small straw that does break the camel's back.

But sometimes, it's just the  weight that you add to your pack, adjust to, and keep going.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Making Your Own Happiness- just add...?

In the words of Abraham Lincoln, "Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."

I read this today, and it made me stop and think. I totally agree with this quote. I am a firm believer that you can make your own happiness. That if you're not happy, it's completely up to you to change something- your job, your home, your geography, your relationship.
But I also wonder at what point, if you're doing all you can, you have to stop and re-evaluate what is obviously not working. How long do you give something? Friends of Dad set themselves a five year deadline to sell their home, their business, and live life on a sailboat (you can follow their great adventures here:
No offense to Tammy or Chip, but five years seems like forever. If you're not looking for a move that big, maybe just a change of pace, how long do you give yourself?
The last six months have seemed really hard spiritually and emotionally. As I approached the one year anniversary of Mom being gone, I started to contemplate what I wanted my life to be. Everyone said to wait at least a year before making any big decisions. But I found, as the one year mark came up, that I allowed myself to start thinking.
I've been here eight years, and while I wouldn't trade it, it certainly wasn't of my choosing. So I began to think about what I wanted. What I want to choose.
  • To make the transition to teaching college (preferably community college, as they accept Masters degrees)
  • If I can't make the transition with the experience I have, then apply to doctorate programs and get myself the experience/piece of paper I need to teach college
  • Get published in scholarly journals
  • Continue to present at conferences
But it's been rough. The rejection. The stress. Wondering if I'm doing the right thing. Wondering if this is really what I want. Growing unhappiness. It seems as though I'm treading water. I think I'm doing everything I can, but without a support system, it's hard to know if I'm navigating the waters the best way I can.

So, universe? What words of advice do you have for me?